Beauty in the Mess,  Ezra,  Family,  Health, Wellness, & Self Care,  Little Brother,  Motherhood,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings,  Special Needs Parenting

2018 in review: just a year we were capable of more

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Can I be honest with you all for a second? I’ve been a little bit annoyed with the New Year hubbub the last week. People sharing their #topnine photos, sharing resolutions, sharing what they are looking forward to…blah blah blah. I started to wonder if I could boycott the New Year.

I’m not even really sure why it was all annoying me. Gosh I’ve always been “that person” too. What is different about this year?

I’ve been mulling it over a lot. Why don’t I feel that way this year? What did 2018 mean to me? Shouldn’t I be making goals? 

I felt no burning desire to look back on 2018. When I did, I felt rather “meh” about it. I felt no burning desire to look forward to 2019. Again, meh.

Is this just depression? Holiday blues? Hormones? Does social media create unnecessary pressure? Am I being too hard on myself? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

So instead I’ve been lying on the couch binge-watching CSI and pretending that this momentous thing called THE NEW YEAR isn’t happened. It turns out, you CAN boycott the New Year.

The only thing that really brought me comfort was a status update from a geeky friend of mine who I adore. This is what she said:

I never resolve, I either do or I don’t. Most often, I don’t.

Somehow this little statement gave me a bit of permission to not make a big deal about the new year, self improvement, memories, or goals. To just be and have it be okay.

This morning, however, as I was running the vacuum in the boys’ rooms, it finally hit me part of what my problem is:

At the end of every year since starting this blog, I’ve been able to look back and focus on that one thing…either hardship or blessing…that sort of defined the year. A deployment. A new baby. A diagnosis. A new home. A spiritual change. A move. It was the year of …{fill in the blank}.

When I look back onto 2018, nothing comes into focus. It’s just kind of blurry. 2018 was just a year. A year where nothing really big happened. 

When I look forward to 2019, there’s also nothing on the horizon. No new babies, new moves, new diagnostic testing…nothing really. Just more of the same.

2018 in review: just a year we were capable of more

If our past years have been defined by mountains and canyons, this past year was just a bunch of little rolling hills. Looking forward, our journey into 2019 feels like I’m about to drive through the state of Indiana.

So I guess when you go through your adult life hanging on between crises, when you have a year where nothing happens and are looking forward to a year where you don’t expect anything to happen, it feels weird. Flat. Like something is missing.

Our 2018 was made up of a thousand little, ordinary moments:

But, in all the ordinary there was one thing that kinda-sorta stands out: CAPING.

{pronounced cape-ing}

Caping is a word that we came up with to help Ezra, to remind him that he CAN do things. That he’s capable. Sometimes it’s the mundane things, like putting on his own shoes or getting dressed. “Ezra, you are capable. You can do this. We need you to start caping.” 

So while I look back on 2018 and don’t see a ton of mountaintops, I do see a lot of caping in the little things.

What this year has taught me is that our family is capable of more than I thought we were. 

We were able to get out of the house more and do more things without huge meltdowns.

2018 in review: just a year we were capable of more

The boys were able to play together for longer stretches of time without fighting.

Both boys have also really improved in their independent play skills. This means that it’s easier for me to get things done around the house or on my computer. The mess is less contained, but the trade-off is worth it.

Ezra does especially well in his room for quiet time: playing with K’Nex, listening to stories from Grandma, drawing, coloring, or reading – he has more options now than he used to!

Now that LB is three we are capable of more things just due to his age and development. We are capable of going out without the diaper bag because he is 100% potty trained day and night. The boys can play outside on their own without my worrying about them (too much) getting hit by cars due to running into the street.

Both boys can swim independently now (LB with a vest), and both boys are comfortable going off the deep end. This makes trips to the neighborhood pool a lot easier.

Both boys are sleeping a little bit more consistently, and later into the mornings. Ezra is now capable of getting up and pouring himself a bowl of cereal or fixing toast for him and LB. He can also operate the TV and DVD player. So, the boys can kind of fend for themselves while I sleep in every once in a while.

Ezra can read and write now, which means we can always default to “go read a book,” when he’s bored. He also is using stress relief coloring and writing regularly as a way to express his feelings, something he’s been unable to do in the past. We really like this anxiety journal we got him.

The boys have become more capable at helping around the house, both inside and out.

When they are not fighting over toys or overwhelming each other with grabs and squeals, the boys are developing a wonderful brother-bond far beyond what I thought was possible.

Here are the boys entertaining each other during Ezra’s last IEP meeting:

For the last six weeks, I’ve been able to take Ezra ice skating several times a week! It’s become a passion for both of us – something we BOTH enjoy, which is a true rarity!

At our recent family holiday gatherings, the boys sat at the table with the grownups and cleaned their plates. They were kind and respectful to their elders. And I felt like I had been transported to another universe.

As for Russ and I – well, we hit our 10th anniversary, so we must be doing something right. We often continue to struggle with being on the same page about a lot of things, parenting especially. We resumed marriage counseling this fall and continue to work through some of these kinks. Some days are harder than others in that regard, but we are still committed to making it work in spite of our differences.

I think it’s helped us this year to spend a bit more time on our own interests. Me with my schooling and both watching and participating in ice skating (as well as the ongoing blogging and social media gig). I also was very proud that I got an A in biology this past spring. Russ has continued with video gaming and also successfully took TWO Bible college courses this fall!

Russ is having fewer panic attacks and having to take fewer personal days. We both dislike that he’s on four medications to maintain this level of stability. He’s also gone from a 8-hours-5-days work week to a 10-hours-4-days work week, which has been SO much better for him personally and for our overall family dynamic.

He’s also put more time and energy into hiking – and even went on his first 2-night overnight hike in October! He and Ezra participate in Trail Life a few times a month and also had an overnight camp out with some guys from church earlier this year. I was holding my breath, but they did okay!

Our family is very unique in its challenges, and I don’t really see that changing. Between our differing personalities, needs, and diagnoses – our house can be a rather combustible space. This leads to either frequent fighting OR walking on eggshells waiting for the next eruption. Rather than trying to fix all these little problems, we are learning how to work with the cards we have been dealt and manage things better. This new-found ability that we have to do things apart from each other – Ezra and Mommy time, Ezra and Daddy time, Ezra and LB time, etc. has created these little pockets of positive space for us to just breathe I guess – to enjoy time together without ALL FOUR OF US having to be together.

LB probably has gotten the short end of the stick in this regard, as we don’t really have this ONE thing that we do just with him (unless you count donut runs), but Russ and I both try to make space just for him too.

We are on the last day of our Christmas break. The boys go back to school TOMORROW! (yay!) Between the Christmas break and snow days we got earlier this month, they ended up having 13 days off of school this month, plus the normal weekends. It’s been some long days. But in comparison to years past, I haven’t felt NEARLY as desperate as I normally would under these circumstances. Desperate moments for sure…but not whole days. We are making progress and things are getting just a tiny bit easier, a little bit at a time.

So as we enter the year 2019, I just want more of this. More of reaching (and increasing) our capabilities. More peace. More space. More of things getting easier instead of harder. These are my only goals right now. And it is enough.


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